Ford Transit: Long wait worth it

It’s been a long time coming – 39 years! - but Ford’s Transit is back in South Africa in two versions, one for people and one for goods.

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England is the home of the Transit van, a big and square box of a vehicle that, for whatever reason, is the favourite vehicle there of bank robbers and similar undesirables. Go figure...

Back in the 1960’s it was the definitive stuff-mover; plumbers, roofers, builders, carpenters, department stores – anything of reasonable size that needed shifting probably changed locations in a Ford Transit.


It was the original “white van” and if you didn’t see at least a half-dozen from the bus on the way to work you were probably sleeping. Since then it has gone through many changes and facelifts but, like the VW Beetle, it was always recognisable.

Tourneo puts SA back in Transit
Ford Transit Custom - big and back

It’s had 47 years as market leader in the UK, selling 60 000 year there and 250 000 across Europe, and the latest model was named 2013 Van of the Year. About 2.3-million have been sold in the UK since 1965 and an amazing 700 000 are still on the roads there, according to Ford, which adds...

“It’s the backbone of business in the UK.”

It was assembled in South Africa in Port Elizabeth from 1967-74 then quietly disappeared; perhaps VW’s Transporter took its place. For 25 years I’ve been asking Ford SA if the latest versions would come to SA and the answer was always: “No, sorry!”

Why? Apparently because Ford’s lack of export vehicles over the years didn’t generate enough credits to allow import of the Transit. Now, it seems, they do.


It’s back in two versions: the eight-seat passenger-carrying Tourneo Custom in short and long-wheelbase and the commercial Transit Custom, also in swb and lwb, but each with the same 2.2-litre Duratorq turbodiesel engine, though in several states of tune: 74kW/310Nm, 92kW/350Nm and 114kW/385kW for the Sport model. Port Elizabeth supplies the engine for units assembled in Kansas in the USA. Again, go figure; other units, including those destined for South Africa, are assembled in Turkey, and there’s another plant in Nanchang, China but no plans for SA assembly.

Two more spec levels are included, using the well-known Ford designations of Ambiente and Trend, but all models are more than five metres long.. A 230V power socket might become an optional extra.

Prices through the nine-model range go from R302 700 for the Transit Custom short-wheelbase ‘low’ van up to R414 700 for the Tourneo Trend long-wheelbase – each except the Custom Ambiente Hi with a six-speed manual transmission, its shifter sprouting from the facia. The odd man out has a six-speed auto.

There are a total of seven Tourneo and Transit options involving metallic paint, various air-con/parking sensors combinations, an entertainment pack with cruise control, and an entertainment pack with parking sensors and cruise control (see full price list below).


A high-roof model is expected in the second quarter of 2014, to join the current models as the first vans to get a five-star EuroNCAP crash protection rating.

All units are sold with a four-year or 120 000km warranty, five-year anti-rust through warranty, three years of roadside assistance and a five-year or 90 000km service plan (optional on Ambiente vans).

The Transits go up against the likes of Renault’s Trafic, Fiat’s Ducato and VW products.

Service intervals are 15 000km.


Tourneo Custom (6spd manual transmission)
2.2 TDCi Ambiente swb – R385 200
2.2 TDCi Trend swb – R407 800
2.2 TDCi Ambiente lwb – R392 200
2.2 TDCi Trend lwb – R414 700
Metallic paint – R1150
Rear aircon and parking sensors – R8420
Rear seat aircon – R5000
Entertainment pack with parking sensors and cruise control – R8470

Transit Custom (6-spd manual transmission except Ambiente Hi swb)
2.2 TDCi Ambiente Low swb – R302 700
2.2 TDCi Ambiente Hi swb CVT – R306 400
2.2 TDCi Ambiente low lwb – R309 700
2.2 TDCi Ambiente Hi lwb – R317 400
2.2 TDCi Sport swb – R364 600
Metallic paint – R1150
Audio pack with cruise control – R5050
Front passenger airbag – R1370
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